The New York Times’ openly homosexual columnist Frank Bruni is scandalized that the Boy Scouts would consider maintaining on grounds favorable to “the religious right” their long-held policy that scout leaders be heterosexual only, though the Scouts do intend, it seems, to change their policy of prohibiting homosexual scouts.
But what about the morals and the God of people whose religions exhort them to be inclusive and to treat gays and lesbians with the same dignity as anyone else? There are many Americans in this camp, and their opposition to the Scouts’ ban is as faith-based as the stance of those who want it maintained….
But there’s a religious center. A religious left. There are Christian moderates and Christian liberals: less alliterative and less dogmatic, but perhaps no less concerned with acting in ways that reflect moral ideals. We should better acknowledge that and them….
There are Christian Leftists who support homosexual behavior (and now marriage). Why enlist the Christian God only on the side of some Christians? Why not accommodate the morality of all professing Christians?
This would be a potent argument if it could be shown that the Christian Faith is compatible with all conflicting moralities that all professed Christians champion. But it can’t. Christianity is a Faith founded not just on a relationship with the Triune God but also on his Word, the Bible — and, in fact, by it to him. Christians believe the Bible is God’s authoritative Word. To deny that Word is to deny Christ and Christianity.
Some teachings in the Bible are not so unambiguously clear such that there may be no reasonable doubt about them — not, at least, among those who affirm Biblical authority. These teachings include the sign gifts, millennialism, church polity, the sacraments (or ordinances), the age of the earth, and Bible translations. About these teachings, Bible-affirming Christians may — and do — disagree. They disagree because the Bible is not unambiguously clear in its teaching. The Bible’s teachings on all vital issues are unambiguous, but God does not promise that it will be clear to us on every conceivable issue we wish that it were. In addition, because we are both finite and sinful creatures, we cannot expect to grasp God’s written will with unambiguous clarity on every topic it addresses. In short, with some topics we must live and grapple with ambiguities in the Biblical text.
Homosexuality is not one of those topics. As Robert Gagnon has painstakingly shown, the Bible under no condition can be reasonably interpreted to suggest that homosexual behavior is acceptable — or, in fact, anything but sinful: like pride, racism, adultery, abortion, kidnapping, covetousness, hatred, and so on. To be a Christian is to believe the Bible, and to believe the Bible is to believe what it says about homosexuality. One cannot hold to a Christian Biblical authority while holding homosexuality to be acceptable behavior.
The category of “Christian liberal,” in the sense Bruni uses it, is oxymoronic. Many years ago J. Gresham Machen exhibited in Christianity and Liberalism that theological liberalism (and this is what Bruni has in mind, not political liberalism) is not a species of Christianity; it’s a different religion altogether. Machen showed that if Jesus and the apostles would have found certain beliefs (and dis-beliefs) of modern liberals at war with their own faith, we make a mockery today of Christianity to say that this liberalism can be Christian (and this can be and is true of certain conservative beliefs and practices, too).
The Bible teaches explicitly that homosexuals (as well as the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers) can be converted. But they won’t “inherit the kingdom of God” if they persist in their unrepentant sin (1 Cor. 6:9–11). The Bible doesn’t single out persistent unrepentant homosexual practice as a sin that will exclude one from the kingdom — lots of other sins can do that, too. But homosexual practice is certainly one of them, and to pretend as though it is acceptable is no less egregious than claiming covetousness and idolatry are acceptable.
No doubt the Boy Scouts appeal to many true Christians, and no doubt many of the religious left do support homosexual practice and want the Boy Scouts to be tolerant of their beliefs and practice. They might, moreover, wish to be known as Christian.
But homosexual practice is not compatible with Christianity. You can be a Christian or you can be a persistent, practicing homosexual.
You cannot be both.